Showing posts from April, 2012

Paganism in Cornwall RE syllabus

Jolly Pagans source Last week the antennae of some minor imp at the Daily Mail were twitched by the news that Cornwall's Religious Education syllabus is to include paganism for the first time.  Not a huge story for the Mail, but just enough of a hint of "political correctness gone mad" for the paper to generate a bit of indignation. This was soon picked up by the kind of Christian organisations that respond to the same stimuli as the Mail, the Christian Institute reporting it with suitably pursed lips. And the Church Times duly arrived at the story on Friday. Except, of course, being the Church Times, the last bastion of responsible journalism in this country, it obtained a series of quotes from people in Cornwall who actually know something about it, and turned it into something quite uncontroversial.  David Hampshire is absolutely right. Cornwall has both a huge pile of ancient pagan sites, and a whole load of people who like doing religious or quasi-religio

Cornwall Council talks rubbish - the definitive statement

Always Hope is equally fascinated and appalled at the workings of the bureaucratic mind. The world according to petty officialdom is a wonderful place, where words have alternative meaning, reality is determined by flow charts drawn up in airless offices, and nothing happens unless a form is filled out 3 months in advance. Anyone who shares my fascination will thank BBC Cornwall for publishing this in full on their website: Residents living in the former North Cornwall, Caradon and Restormel district areas should get a complete set of three new reusable sacks and a black box to replace the coloured disposable plastic sacks they currently use. But former Carrick district householders, who already have a black box, a red sack and a yellow sack can expect a new orange reusable sack for recycling cardboard. Households in the former Kerrier district will also get an orange reusable sack, a blue reusable sack for paper, but no box as they already have a blue box. Whereas residents

National Secular Society plumbs new depths of absurdity

This blog has a long standing interest in the antics of the National Secular Society, or National Sausage Society, as we now prefer to call it. (for reasons that are explained here ). I'm not the first to comment on this (David Keen did already ) but their latest attention seeking stunt is a classic of its kind. As the BBC website tells us, "atheist children are being excluded from the scouts, the NSS has warned in a letter to Chief Scout Bear Grylls." Readers may remember from their own distant childhoods, that the new scout makes a promise to "to my duty to God and to the Queen".  I remember saying it myself, and it meant what you might expect it to mean to the average 11 year-old, the "region of ill-defined piety", as Patrick O'Brian describes it in one of his books (though I don't think he was talking about scouts). I do not recall the march of atheism being a burning issue among my contemporaries in the 9th Ampthill & Woburn, but per

The Disappointment of Authors

In my paper last week (sorry, can't remember which one) there was an interview with the author Michael Frayn who says that he always avoids literary festivals, as a punter or as an author. His point was that he doesn't want to meet the people who write the books he likes, in case they turn out to be less than he hoped they might be. "Authors are so often disappointing in person" I think was the quote. It's an interesting thought. When we read a book, especially a novel, as well as entering into the created world of the book, we also create a world of our own in response. If we are impressed by the book, it's often the voice of the narrator that we warm to, and we can invest a lot of affection or respect in that imagined person. If the author, incarnated, turns out to be less than we hoped for, does this spoil the book for us? Many great authors, of course, have been less than saintly, but that is not necessarily a blow to the reader. What is more fearful is

People in funny clothes outside Truro Cathedral

I've had this for ages, but have not yet dared use it. It came courtesy of the entertaining  RevdKathy , who assures me that it is something to do with the Methodists, although the one on the right looks strangely familiar. There are so many things I could say about this. And for that reason I am going to say nothing.

Back to Church Sunday - essential?

So today the C of E launches the sign-up for this year's Back to Church Sunday .   I wonder if any readers are among the three million who are "waiting for a friend to invite them"? (For the record, I believe this refers to a survey carried out a couple of years ago when people were asked if they would consider going to church if someone asked them to).  Or perhaps more likely, you are among those considering doing the asking. Back to Church Sunday is a neat idea. There really are people out there who would consider coming to church if asked. Churchgoers get to interact with their unchurched or de-churched friends without having to talk about anything difficult like God, or their own personal faith - it's just a question of making the invitation.  But there are one or two cautions to considered before investing   Back to Church with the "essential" label, and seeing it as the panacea for all the church's ills. The most obvious one is the question of

Open letter to David Cameron

The Rt Hon David Cameron MP 10 Downing Street London SW1A 2AA Good Friday, 2012 Dear Mr Cameron I read with great interest your Easter message, in which you talk about the character of Jesus and values of Christianity. You have received criticism from those who think you went too far, and those who think you did not go far enough, but I for one was pleased to see you put Easter in a Christian context. I particularly noted the way that you clearly identified yourself as one of the Christians who will remember the life and sacrifice of Jesus this Easter. So please allow me to wish you in return a happy Easter. As a Christian, you will, like me, have spent part of today contemplating the extraordinary, epoch-changing event of the crucifixion, and the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ on our behalf, that the world might be redeemed. As Christians, nothing we do can be unaffected by it. Both you and I follow vocations in which our faith really ought to make a difference to the way we

Moving on (personal news)

So the secret's out. Yesterday I had the difficult task of telling everyone here that I am leaving Kea in the summer. Now I'm just about recovering from the euphoric rush of finally divulging something that had been kept hushed up for what seems like ages. I'll be moving to the Diocese of Portsmouth, to take on the role of Mission Development Officer. You can read the official release here . As you can see from that, I'm enthusiastic about the job. And it was nice to get lots of positive feedback yesterday, in church and on Twitter. But I've already had the first query along the lines of "what on earth is that all about?", something which I expect to be repeated often, including by some of the good people in the parishes of Portsmouth.  I don't underestimate the challenge, but I think it is worth the attempt. Calling is a complex thing, but writing this blog has been part of mine. And I've decided I don't want to become an armchair critic. So

The Lord's Prayer

Twitter users will know that the Twitter interface continuously displays the top 10 trending topics at any moment in time. It's simply a matter of which 10 phrases are most rapidly being adopted by the mass of Twitter users, and is usually dominated by a combination of the current news headlines, what's on telly, and whatever silly word games have been set in motion by minor celebs that day. But on Friday, we were all treated to the sight of "The Lord's Prayer" registering as one of the top 10 UK trends. What prompted this apparent revival? It was Archbishop Rowan, who had opined, in response to a question from BBC Newsround , that he thought it would be quite good if the Lord's Prayer was re-introduced in schools. I wonder what people think about the idea. The loss of the Lord's Prayer from the collective memory of the nation is, or is a symptom of (not sure which), a massive shift in the cultural landscape of this country. I was probably one of the l